Doing it in the Clutch

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” – Thomas Payne The Crisis has a neat little feature where they keep track of clutch stats. They define clutch as: 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points. I decided to take these stats and make a fun little post for your amusement .

First a little background. I’m going to be following the same logic as I used here. I’m going to divide by usage groups. I’m going to look at points per shot and  per possesion (FGA +TOV+FTA*.44) . I’m also calculating Points created per possesion : (Total Pts scored+Unassisted points scored)/2  +Assists *(Avg value of points per FGM(2.7 pts) /2) . Oh and everything is per 48 and I included average values for reference.


What to make of this? For the super high usage players in the clutch, Westbrook is a freak . Dirk, Kobe and Ellis carry that load. Lebron & Rose are good.  Eric Gordon doesn’t hurt you. Johnson,Amare and Durant actually do hurt you. Beasley, Thomas and Jrich  pain you. Carmelo, Cousins do things out of a torture porn movie to you.

Bargniani deserves to be tried by the world court for crimes committed against Canada.

Group 2 (high usage) is point guard heavy with Nash,Paul & Williams killing it in the clutch (with Harris, Miller, Farmar Billups & Parker joining in as well). Pierce and Ginobli show up as well matching the stat to perception (I do actually watch the games).  Kevin Love hurts his  MVP candidacy severely by producing at a sub Bargniani level in the clutch.

As for the rest of the groups? Rondo should totally get the ball more in the clutch (but I knew that) and so should Felton, Bibby and Kidd.  The big surprise? Landry Fields should really get the ball more.

For some perspective let’s also do it by team:

You too can now bitch at your team’s questionable play selection!

P.S Here’s a link to piece I collaborated on looking at WP48 Clutchiness with Prof. Berri for Slate


  1. ilikeflowers
    January 24

    Bibby’s no surprise based on my perception of him. I particularly remember way back when the Kings were melting down against the Laker’s, game 7, 4th quarter and overtime in the conference finals he was hitting everything to the point that the Laker’s were double and triple teaming him because he was the only one with the stones. They didn’t care who shot the ball as long as it wasn’t him. I also remember Doug Cristie choking big time in that game. Rasheed Wallace had a similar apparently clutch game 7 against the Lakers with Portland.

    For the guys without a reputation as go to guys, one would expect their ‘clutchiness’ to decline some as their usage increased and their rep grew. Regardless, strategically teams need to run plays incorporating as many of these ‘clutchy’ players as options as possible just to see if they can keep it up with increased opportunities. It’s also likely that the best option is to have multiple lower usage ‘clutch’ players who can score more efficiently taken as a whole than any single higher usage player.

  2. ilikeflowers
    January 24

    The real question is how much of a player’s clutchiness is intrinsic to them. How stable are these player stats over time?

  3. ilikeflowers
    January 24

    Is there any way to look at wp48 clutchiness?

    • January 24

      I’ve done it before. I can do it again. I’ll put more of the clutch data up in the next few days as well.

  4. January 24

    Forgive my stupidity. The numbers show how far above and below average they are? Not how far above or below their normal production they are, right? Also are the averages you used for comparison the average for the whole league overall, the average for the whole league in clutch situations, this set of players overall or this set of players in clutch situations?

    Thanks Arturo!

    Also I’m putting a piece together for IndyCornrows today looking at the Pacers’ clutch statistics, and I’ll definitely include a link to this!

    • January 24

      No worries, good questions. I worked out the averages for clutch situations over the last three years for every player listed by 82 games. So It’s how much better or worse you are than league average (I really should’ve put that in, I was doing the post on my lunch break).

      • some dude
        January 24

        So points per possession in the clutch over the past 3 years (or 2.5 I assume) is .98?

        And hasn’t league average been about 1.06 over that same span (for the entire game?).

        So basically, what I said in an earlier post seems true. Teams, by not running their normal offense in most clutch situations, are actually hurting themselves. Unless time is a definite factor, you should not run a clock killing iso or 2 man PnR over your normal offensive scheme.

        Separate note I forgot to mention below, I thought Manu would be higher. He has just seemed super clutch this year,

        • January 24

          You have to remember it is a subset of the data (tight game) . That said teams do get out of their game plan.

          Manu is fairly high. Works out to about a +8. I’ll do a follow up on plus minus.

          • some dude
            January 25

            Sorry, I wasn’t meaning to imply Manu was low. I just thought he’d be in the higher usage category as well as top 3-4. It just feels like it.

            I’ve complained about teams changing gameplans before, and I do really think that the issue going on here.

            +/- won’t be very helpful in this situation, IMO, simply because of intentional fouling and allowing the other team to score on purpose when ahead (give up an easy 2 to avoid a 3 or fouling).

  5. some dude
    January 24

    nice work. would love to see the analysis sans intentional FTs altogether. Not that you’re not clutch for hitting them, but just curious as far as clutch offensive play goes.

    Lebron’s numbers seem alarming. They are way down from last year and I think it’s because of the Heat spacing in the clutch. It’s just so bad and him and Wade don’t play well off each other here (still, I see one or the other stand at the wings doing nothing at all with the game on the line). Their record in close games indicates it too. His FG% has droppd from near 50% to 33% (and 3pt% way down) and he’s being assisted on less shots and doling out less than half the amount of assists. Those are staggering drops, IMO. Obviously, he’s still more clutch than average (up to 90% FT right now even), but it seems the offensive system is making it very hard to do what he did in cleveland. Wade isn’t even on’s list. I guess he doesn’t have enough possessions to qualify!? Lebron also doesn’t block anymore clutch shots (he can’t free lance as much anymore).

    Kobe’s shooting in the clutch is down this year (no surprise, really). But his passing is up big time.

    Westbrook is a free throw line machine. I know he has a lower rate than Kobe and Lebron of getting to the line, but that’s misleading. Kobe/Lebron get a lot of intentional foul FTs as does Durant, while Westbrook gets most of his FTs in the clutch from his actual penetration.

  6. […] one of the highest usage rates in the league, Andrea Bargnani is not producing in the clutch. Il Mago is also among the leading candidates for Hickory High’s coveted Matt […]

  7. […] Doing it in the Clutch « Arturo’s Silly Little StatsJan 24, 2011 … has a neat little feature where they keep track of clutch stats. They define clutch as: 4th quarter or overtime, … Leave a comment « Village launderette Comments are closed. […]

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